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Hullabaloo


Friday, May 07, 2010

 
Clues In The Runes

by digby

There's a lot of talk today about the White House settling on Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court, along with some fairly alarming reports that she didn't care about diversity when she was the dean of Harvard Law. This doesn't speak well of her, especially since she is such a blank slate that such actions tend to be the only clues we have about her worldview. (I have assumed that if Obama ends up nominating her we will know for sure that he's decided to run for the hills in anticipation of a right wing surge, which only means he's decided on appeasement rather than leadership. Surprise.)

This, however, makes me wonder if she wasn't highly recommended by the people the administration most wants to please:

A top prospect for the Supreme Court was a paid member of an advisory panel for the embattled investment firm Goldman Sachs, federal financial disclosures show.

Solicitor General Elena Kagan was a member of the Research Advisory Council of the Goldman Sachs Global Markets Institute, according to the financial disclosures she filed when President Obama appointed her last year to her current post. Kagan served on the Goldman panel from 2005 through 2008, when she was dean of Harvard Law School, and received a $10,000 stipend for her service in 2008, her disclosure forms show.

A spokesman for Goldman Sachs did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

The advisory panel met once a year to discuss public policy issues and was not involved in any investment decisions, Justice Department spokesman Tracy Schmaler said.
I'm not sure if that exonerates her or implicates her. Goldman's stand on public policy issues are as much a problem as their investments. And there was plenty of public policy during these years that should have been questioned. By itself it doesn't say much, but when you choose a stealth candidate, you have to make your judgments on what you have.

And by the way, this will give the Republicans a chance to raise the populist flag in the confirmation hearings. If the White House wants to play electoral politics with this, can't they at least do it in a way that actually benefits the Democrats?

Update: So I'm told by various people that Kagan is the only confirmable possibility. I would love to know why that should be true. The Republicans have had little trouble since Bork confirming far right federalist society clones, whether they had a Democratic or Republican Senate. It doesn't seem logical to me that there isn't room for an unabashed liberal on the court with a 59 vote majority in the Senate.

Kagan is an unknown quantity, unlike Roberts and Alito who were clearly both conservative a highly political. Yet Bush managed to get them confirmed. I guess I just don't understand the double standard when it comes to Democrats and I refuse to capitulate to the common wisdom that says no Democratic president can ever confirm a known liberal.

Moreover, I think Supreme Court confirmation battles are ideologically instructive for the nation and are one of the few times when it's possible for people to speak at length about their philosophical worldview. Liberals have to stop running from this. Allowing the other side to define us is killing us.

There are a lot of people who have misgivings over Kagan and I think they're worth listening to. I don't know if she is conservative or not. Nobody does. But somebody who has reached her level and hasn't staked out a clear position is worrisome.

I'd really like to see Obama nominate one of the liberals and have real fight over it going into the election. I don't know why everyone assumes that we will always lose but it's certain that we will if we don't try.

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